Study finds pro-Israeli majority on social networks

Following week of May 19 when Obama made his Mideast Address, study finds majority of bloggers, Facebook, twitter posts pro-Israel.

Israeli online public relations are frequently disparaged, especially during times of crisis, such as last year’s Gaza flotilla or Operation Cast Lead in early 2009. There is often a sense that that battle is lost and that the echoes of the anti-Israeli position are spread effectively and quickly online. However, a new study by the Pew Research Center found a contrary and pro-Israeli reality.
The study examined the online conversation in the week following US President Barack Obama’s May 19 address on the Middle East, in which he declared his support for negotiations on the basis of the 1967 borders. The study found that the tone to conversation on blogs, Twitter and Facebook was positive on the Israeli position.
Fifty-five percent of the of the conversation on blogs on the issue has been in favor of Israel and opposed to a move to the 1967 borders, while 19% has been in favor of the Palestinians and the creation of an independent state. About a quarter, 27%, was neutral, the Pew Research Center reported.
The results on Twitter and Facebook were similar: 60% of the conversation was pro-Israel, compared with 20% pro-Palestinian and 20% neutral.
The survey by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism’s New Media Index examined 48,000 blog posts and 430,000 posts on Twitter or Facebook during the week following May 19.
Compared with similar surveys of online conversations following controversial political events, the conversation on the Israeli-Palestinian issue ignites more opinionated responses and fewer messages referring to pure new items.
The Pew Research Center said social-media users who sided with Israel had criticized Obama for not backing the US ally strongly enough and consequently not upholding American values. Many used phrases such as Obama had “thrown Israel under the bus,” or had “stabbed Israel in the back.”
Supporters of the Palestinians were mostly critical of Israel’s actions and declared that Israel continues to be an occupying power backed by the US. Some were critical of Obama for backing Israel too strongly and not supporting Palestinians.